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The 100 best games ever

60. Grim Fandango

When Grim Fandango hit the scene in 1998, there was nothing like it. Fast-forward nearly two decades and... well, there's still really nothing like it. Part film noir, part Mexican folklore, with a heavy dash of LucasArts wit thrown in for good measure, Grim Fandango's tale of intrigue set in the seedy underbelly of the Land of the Dead feels just as fresh now as it did over 15 years ago.

Thanks to a recent port courtesy of Double Fine (the studio headed by Grim's original director, Tim Schafer), returning fans and newcomers alike can finally step back into Manny's bones and explore the dangerous yet breathtaking Sixth Underworld on modern machines. You'll still get frustrated by a wonky bit of old-school puzzle logic here and there, but Grim hasn't lost one bit of its well-considered charm.

59. Tekken 3

Fighting games were born in the once-dominant world of the arcade, but for years, developers struggled to translate the magic of the stand-up cabinet onto home consoles. Then Tekken 3 came along, whipped off its shades, and made the whole thing look effortless. It's so good you can almost smell that air of stale cigarette smoke and teenage ambition.

So what makes a 17-year-old PS1 fighter so good in 2015? It possesses one of the finest fighting systems ever, the series' well-known juggle formula percolated into a perfect storm of throws, strikes, and suplexes. It even adds two of the most iconic and rewarding characters to ever spill blood in the genre, in the forms of flame-trousered emo Jin Kazama and Chun-Li-aping kick connoisseur Hwoarang. Add to that a serving of tempo-accelerating dance tunes and enough mini-games to shake a fiery fist at, and you've got one hell of a fighting champion.

58. Banjo-Kazooie

Once upon the late '90s, it seemed as if everyone wanted to make the next Super Mario 64. Some say Rare was one such contender, and cartoonish 3D platformer Banjo-Kazooie was its hopeful Mario clone. But Banjo-Kazooie is much more than that. It's a title with a ton of heart, charming in its silliness and endlessly fun to play.

Benefiting from a focus on expansive, themed worlds, Banjo-Kazooie directs all its energy toward making you want to explore its every nook and cranny. Airtight platforming controls make each location fully accessible, and a plethora of fun puzzles and silly characters leaves them feeling rich and full of life. Add in a great sense of humor that inspires some serious hilarity (we can't really think of another game where you save your sister via a life-or-death game show), and it's clear that Banjo-Kazooie does ridiculous fun ridiculously well.

57. Guild Wars 2

World of Warcraft might be the MMO that paved the way, but in the subsequent maelstrom of wannabes, only ArenaNet's daring take on the formula broke into 'must-play' territories. As soon as you log in to Guild Wars 2's world of Tyria and start adventuring, you're immediately doing so alongside armies of fellow players. Dynamic events with ever-shifting objectives kick off all over creation, with no finicky partying system required to partake.

Amazingly, here's an MMO which doesn't require a subscription, and yet manages to be updated constantly with consistently innovative content. You can expect a fresh helping of story every two weeks, alongside puzzles, mini-games, and huge boss battles requiring hundreds of players to join forces to succeed. And if you're more of a solo adventurer, that's ok too - each character's complex personal story is reason enough to keep questing.

56. Left 4 Dead

If you're looking for a stellar co-op game, you can't go wrong with Left 4 Dead. As the survivors, not only do you fight off hundreds of hungry zeds as they bum-rush you at full sprint - there's also a team of zombie players hiding in the shadows, waiting to rip you to shreds. Nothing is better than playing with a well-coordinated team and shotgun-blasting your way through a horde of zombies - or, alternatively, simultaneously pouncing on the survivors as the special infected.

Left 4 Dead has some of the most nerve-wracking gameplay you can find in a co-op shooter. The AI director knows just when to spring a surprise on the group, so every match feels different from the last. Even more unpredictable are the actions of your teammates and foes: sneaking past witches can go awry, boomers can botch an attack, and a tank could spawn at any moment. It'd be terrifying if it wasn't so fun.

55. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

C'mon, no one really wanted to be a lawyer before Phoenix Wright made his case. Wanting to be a lawyer is like wanting to start a pension fund, or getting excited about tax returns. But as it turns out, the life of a defense attorney is full of intrigue, mystery, and horrible, revenge-driven murder.

The first Ace Attorney game marks the beginning of a gorgeously detailed, well-written, and often wacky series; a narrative-led, understated handheld experience in a time when guns-'n'-gore were the order of the day. Why should you play it? The music; the look; the slow, tense unfolding of the story that will keep you gripped from Press Start to finish. It's Shu Takumi's masterpiece, and its only flaw is that it makes lawyering look too cool.

54. Braid

Quite simply, this is the smartest puzzle-platformer ever created. To call it Super Mario with time manipulation would do Braid a great disservice: its showpiece 'rewind all your actions' mechanic is but a fraction of what it has to offer. Each world presents distinct time-distorting powers and puzzles that feed your brain through the wringer, squeeze it out, let it air, and then forcefully knead it afterwards for good measure.

It's the rare product of brutal, uncompromising game design. Eager to avoid repeating a single idea, creator Jonathan Blow famously cut entire worlds from the plans when he discovered some time mechanics weren't generating enough wholly unique puzzles. Those that remain, combined with David Hellman's classical art style and a soothing soundtrack that matches your clock-spinning antics, ensure that Braid has and will stand the test of time.

53. Persona 4 Golden

Reenacting an entire year of high school one day at a time may not sound like one of the best RPGs of the last decade, but Persona 4 Golden's looks can be deceiving. Inaba is a mundane town that's troubled by a bizarre string of murders, and the only way to solve them is for a group of students to band together and figure it out. Finding the answers to the crimes involves an ingenious combination of dungeon crawling and personal introspection.

Persona 4 is a spinoff from Shin Megami Tensei, so it shares the same demonic style of monster collection and dense RPG combat. But when the 80+ hour campaign ends far too soon, what you'll remember most are the friendships between the characters. You get to know each of your classmates intimately as their story unfolds over the school year, and they grow and change along with the protagonist. Little moments, like sewing a stuffed bunny or fishing with a friend, can feel just as earthshaking as any boss battle.

52. Day of the Tentacle

Maniac Mansion may have put LucasArts (or LucasFilm Games, as it was once known) on the map - but it's the sequel, Day of the Tentacle, that really holds a special place in our hearts. Why? Well, it's about time. See, Purple Tentacle is a little deranged, and he's gone off to take over the world. Luckily, you've got a porta-potty-turned-time-machine, and you're off to stop the megalomaniacal appendage before he can enact his plan. Hijinks (inevitably) ensue.

But the plot doesn't just span the centuries - the puzzles do too. Sending objects through the time-tripping toilets will change events in the past, and always with hilarious results. As a bonus Easter egg, you can even find a full copy of the original Maniac Mansion hidden in the game. It's an excellent adventure that still stands the test of... well, you know.

51. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3

Not even atrocities like Tony Hawk Ride or Downhill Jam can ever take away from the greatness of this skate-or-die classic. THPS3 is the pinnacle of the franchise, with ludicrously smooth controls and a playful, over-the-top mentality that hasn't yet veered into Bam Margera worship. Each of the wildly varied stages is full of sick combo lines and nifty secrets, but the two-minute time limit keeps you focused on what really matters: racking up points.

Let us not forget the glory of the revert, which - when paired with the manual move from the preceding game - turns every level into one giant playground. Once you've mastered the art of stringing together your favorite tricks and slick signature moves, you can traverse the entire map in a single magnificent combo. The eclectic soundtrack's unforgettable mix of punk rock, hip-hop, and ska ties it all together like grip tape to make this greatest skating game on the block.